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How to Use Tone Curves

Tutorial created with Topaz Studio V1.0.8

Hi everyone! Today I’ll be going over the Tone Curves Adjustment in Topaz Studio. This Adjustment is very versatile and allows you to make technical corrections and artistic changes alike. I’ll be showing how you can achieve both styles today. It’s pretty amazing how a touch of this adjustment can dramatically change your image.

Overview of the Tone Curves Adjustment

In photo editing, a curve is a remapping of image tonality. Curves can affect the overall tonality of an image, or individual channels. Applying Tone Curves to all channels will affect the brightness, shadows, and contrast while applying Tone Curves to individual channels will affect the image color.

[caption id="attachment_55769" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Original[/caption] [caption id="attachment_55772" align="alignnone" width="1200"] After Tone Curves[/caption]

What You’ll Need

This introductory level walkthrough is really easy to follow along with but you will need just a few things if you’d like to follow along with me:

1. Topaz Studio. You’ll need Topaz Studio on your computer if you’d like to follow along during this tutorial. It’s free to download and Tone Curves is always free to use.

2. An Image. Grab any image to follow along and try it out for yourself.

3. About 10 minutes. This beginner’s level tutorial will only take about 10 minutes to complete.

Don’t have Topaz Studio? Topaz Studio is free to download! You can get it now by using the links below. If you need more information about Topaz Studio, check out this overview: Introducing Topaz Studio

Download Topaz Studio

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Open Image with Tone Curves

An open image in Topaz Studio, edited with 4 different Tone Curves Adjustments. The Effects Panel, Scopes Panel, and Workspace Panel are all minimized for this tutorial.

Adjustment Overview

Tone Curves Adjustment

The Tone Curves Adjustment looks a lot different than other Adjustments within Topaz Studio. Instead of sliders, the Tone Curves Adjustment features a grid and 4 different channels: All, Red, Green, and Blue.

The Channels and What They Do:

All: Technically manipulate and change aspects of the image’s exposure. Add contrast, increase shadows, and increase highlights.

Red: Increase Red or Cyan in an image.

Green: Increase Green or Magenta in an image.

Blue: Increase Blue or Yellow in an image.

Add the Tone Curves Adjustment

NOTE: We will not be using 1-click effects, the workspace, or the scopes panel. I have minimized these areas to make my canvas bigger. You can do this by clicking on the border edge arrow. To open them back up, click again.

There are a few different ways to add the Tone Curves Adjustment in Topaz Studio.

  1. Click the Tone Curves Adjustment icon in the Adjustment Buttons. All 10 free adjustments are located here.
  2. Click the More Button in the Adjustment Buttons to show a list for all Adjustments. Click Tone Curves Adjustment to add it to your Adjustment Stack.
  3. Go to Menu > Adjustment >Tone Curves Adjustment to add the Tone Curves Adjustment.

Adjust RGB Tonality

Changing the RGB Channel will affect the lightness and darkness in an image.

Tip: Most people add an S-Curve. This is where one point is above the Curve Line and one point is below to create a subtle S Shape.

Try It: Use your mouse or stylus to click and drag points to change the Curve Line. You will see how your image and histogram change. You can add as few or as many points as you like to change your image. The shadows, highlights, and contrast will be affected when you update the RGB Channel.

 

Before and After

[caption id="attachment_55769" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Original[/caption] [caption id="attachment_55860" align="alignnone" width="1200"] After RGB Adjustment[/caption]

Here you can see how a slight S Curve can affect the image contrast.

Adjust the Red Channel

Changing the Red Channel will add Red when the points are above the Curve Line and Cyan when the points are below. If a point is above and one is below, you will start to notice a slight dual tone effect.

Try It: Use your mouse or stylus to click and drag points to change the Red Channel Curve Line. You will see how your image and histogram change. You can add as few or as many points as you like to change your image (while I prefer one point you may prefer more). Experiment with the Red Channel and see how your image is affected.

 

Before and After

[caption id="attachment_55769" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Original[/caption] [caption id="attachment_55970" align="alignnone" width="1200"] After Red Channel Adjustment[/caption]

The Red Channel affects reds in an image.

Adjust the Green Channel

Changing the Green Channel will add Green when the points are above the Curve Line and Magenta when the points are below. If a point is above and one is below, you will start to notice a slight dual tone effect.

Try It: Use your mouse or stylus to click and drag points to change the Green Channel Curve Line. You will see how your image and histogram change. You can add as few or as many points as you like to change your image. Experiment with the Green Channel and see how your image is affected. You may like to add green or to add magenta.

 

Before and After

[caption id="attachment_55769" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Original[/caption] [caption id="attachment_56003" align="alignnone" width="1200"] After Green Channel Adjustment[/caption]

The Green Channel affects green in an image.

Adjust the Blue Channel

Changing the Blue Channel will add Blue when the points are above the Curve Line and Yellow when the points are below. If a point is above and one is below, you will start to notice a slight dual tone effect.

Try It: Use your mouse or stylus to click and drag points to change the Blue Channel Curve Line. Experiment and see how your image is affected with more blue or more yellow.

 

Before and After

[caption id="attachment_55769" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Original[/caption] [caption id="attachment_56021" align="alignnone" width="1200"] After Blue Channel Adjustment[/caption]

The Blue Channel affects blues in an image.

Combine Tone Curves and Masking Tutorial

That’s It!

From bold and colorful to subtle and realistic, that’s everything you can accomplish with the Tone Curves Adjustment in Topaz Studio and how you can do it! I hope you tried out a few new things today and learned a little about the endless possibilities within Topaz Studio.

We’ll also be adding more tutorials and videos so be sure to give us a follow to learn more!

If you’d like to share your images with us, tag us on Instagram with @topazlabs and Twitter with @topazlabs. We’re also on Facebook and YouTube!

About Jodi L. Robbins

Topaz Labs - Jodi L. Robbins

Jodi is currently the Art Director of Topaz Labs. She has been an artist and photographer for over 15 years, starting with black and white film photography and alternative processing. After completing her BFA in Studio Art from Southern Methodist University and her Masters in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked in product photography for companies such as Heritage Auctions, Neiman Marcus, and the Dallas Cowboys.

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How to Use the Brightness Contrast Adjustment

Hi everyone! Today we’ll be going over the Brightness Contrast Adjustment in Topaz Studio. This Adjustment is very versatile and allows you to make subtle changes and extreme changes. I’ll be showing how both styles can work in a single image. It’s pretty amazing how a touch of this adjustment can dramatically change your image. So lets get started.

Overview of the Brightness Contrast Adjustment

Topaz Studio is a simple to use editing platform with Topaz Labs’ powerful acclaimed photo enhancement technology. It works as a standalone editor, a plugin within Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as a host application for your other Topaz plugins. It is free to use the program, all 1-click effects, and 10 Adjustments.

The Brightness Contrast Adjustment is one of 10 free Adjustments within Topaz Studio! Brightness Contrast lets users correct and update images with absolute control over the brightness, contrast, and saturation of an image. This easy to use, extremely versatile tool provides users with an array of possibilities. From inverted colors to bold contrast to soft and dreamy, Brightness Contrast gives you the ability to make your images come alive. Want to follow along as I show you how you can correct images in this beginner level tutorial? Grab this image and open it in Topaz Studio to begin!

butterfly

Don’t have Topaz Studio? Topaz Studio is free to download! You can get it now by using the links below. If you need more information about Topaz Studio, check out this overview: Introducing Topaz Studio

Free Topaz Studio Download

What You’ll Need

This introduction tutorial is really easy to follow along with but you will need just a few things if you’d like to follow along with me:

1. Topaz Studio. You’ll need Topaz Studio on your computer if you’d like to follow along during this tutorial.

2. An Image. Grab the butterfly image above to follow along and try it out for yourself.

3. About 15 minutes. This beginner’s level tutorial will only take about 15 minutes to complete.

I’m going to teach you about each slider and what it does. Ready to try it out? Let’s get started!

1. Open Image

An open image in Topaz Studio. The Effects Panel, Scopes Panel, and Workspace Panel are all minimized for this tutorial.

Adjustment Overview

Brightness Contrast Adjustment Overview

The Brightness Contrast Adjustment looks simple with only 3 sliders. Don’t let the simplicity fool you! This little Adjustment is very powerful and can completely change the look of an image!

The Sliders and What They Do:

Brightness: Correct images or add artistic flare by changing the brightness of the image from pure white to solid black and anywhere in between.

Contrast: From intense contrast to dreamy and soft contrast to completely inverted, Brightness Contrast offers a variety of editing possibilities.

Saturation: From bold to subtle, desaturated to inverted, choose any saturation you like! The full spectrum of choices allows for bold colors, delicate hues, and artistic combinations.

Step 1: Add the Brightness Contrast Adjustment

NOTE: We will not be using 1-click effects, the workspace, or the scopes panel. I have minimized these areas to make my canvas bigger. You can do this by clicking on the border edge arrow. To open them back up, click again.

There are a few different ways to add the Brightness Contrast Adjustment in Topaz Studio.

  1. Click the Brightness Contrast Adjustment icon in the Adjustment Buttons (pictured here). All 10 free adjustments are located here.
  2. Click the More Button in the Adjustment Buttons to show a list for all Adjustments. Click Brightness Contrast Adjustment to add it to your Adjustment Stack.
  3. Go to Menu > Adjustment >Brightness Contrast Adjustment to add the Brightness Contrast Adjustment.

We will be making changes to the subject matter (butterfly) once you have added the Brightness Contrast Adjustment.

Try it out: Slide each slider back and forth between -1.00 and 3.00 (1.00 for the Brightness Slider) and observe how the image is affected! To reset the slider just click the Slider Name or click Undo (bottom right hand corner of the program).

To make the butterfly bright and blue, simply make the following adjustments:
Brightness: 0.10
Contrast: 1.75
Saturation: -1.00

2. Brightness Contrast Color Change

An extreme change with the Brightness Contrast Adjustment in Topaz Studio.

Once you have made the changes, go to the Blending Mode drop down and rollover the various names to see how the image is affected. Select Color.

3. Change Blending Mode

Use the Blending Mode to change the way the image is affected by the Adjustment.

Masking

5. Invert Brush Masking

We will need to mask to make the subject matter the only affected area. Click the Add Mask Button next to the Adjustment name to add an Adjustment Level Mask. When you add masking it will default to white. Select Invert to make the mask black. Then select Brush. Since the mask is black we will need to brush in white. Change the Mask Density to white. Paint the subject matter white. You can change the Radius and Edge Softness to make the brush bigger or sharper. When you are finished, click Done.

When you are done with the first Brightness Contrast Adjustment, select the Eye Icon to turn the Adjustment OFF.

Step 2: Add the Second Brightness Contrast Adjustment

Go ahead and add a second Brightness Contrast Adjustment.

Try it out: Slide each slider back and forth between -1.00 and 3.00 (1.00 for the Brightness Slider) and observe how the background changes.

You can put the slider where you like them or use the same settings I used:
Brightness: -0.45
Contrast: 1.00
Saturation: 1.30

6. Background Changes

A subtle change with the Brightness Contrast Adjustment in Topaz Studio is easy to accomplish.

Masking

7. Mask Butterfly

Now we’ll need to mask to make the background the only affected area. Click the Add Mask Button next to the Adjustment name to add an Adjustment Level Mask. When you add masking it will default to white. Then select Brush. Make sure the Mask Density is black. Paint the subject matter black. You can change the Radius and Edge Softness to make the brush bigger or sharper. When you are finished, click Done.

When you are done with the second Brightness Contrast Adjustment, select the Eye Icon on the first Adjustment to turn the Adjustment ON.

The completed image: a subtle, yet dramatic background and a vibrant and bright butterfly.

That’s It!

From bold and colorful to subtle and realistic, that’s everything you can accomplish with the Brightness Contrast Adjustment in Topaz Studio and how you can do it! I hope you tried out a few new things today and learned a little about the endless possibilities within Topaz Studio.

We’ll also be adding more tutorials and videos so be sure to give us a follow to learn more!

If you’d like to share your images with us, tag us on Instagram with @topazlabs and Twitter with @topazlabs. We’re also on Facebook and YouTube!

About Jodi L. Robbins

Topaz Labs - Jodi L. Robbins

Jodi is currently the Art Director of Topaz Labs. She has been an artist and photographer for over 15 years, starting with black and white film photography and alternative processing. After completing her BFA in Studio Art from Southern Methodist University and her Masters in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked in product photography for companies such as Heritage Auctions, Neiman Marcus, and the Dallas Cowboys.

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How to Use the Basic Adjustment

Hi everyone! There’s been a few questions popping up about how to use the all new Topaz Studio like “What are Adjustments?” and “How do I add an Adjustment and what should I do with it?”

To help get you started, I’ll be going over the most useful and popular Adjustment in Topaz Studio, the Basic Adjustment! This Adjustment is a great starting point for correcting exposure and color in images. You can learn more about the Basic Adjustment on the Basic Adjustment Information Page but, if you’re ready to get started now, you can follow along with this entry level introduction to learn more and to start working immediately on your own images.

Overview of the Basic Adjustment

Topaz Studio is a simple to use editing platform with Topaz Labs’ powerful acclaimed photo enhancement technology. It works as a standalone editor, a plugin within Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as a host application for your other Topaz plugins. It is free to use the program, all 1-click effects, and 10 Adjustments.

The Basic Adjustment is one of 10 free Adjustments within Topaz Studio! You can get access to all the common tools you need to balance your exposure, correct color, and control image detail. Feel free to follow along as I show you how you can correct images in this beginner level tutorial.

Don’t have Topaz Studio? Topaz Studio is free to download! You can get it now by using the links below. If you need more information about Topaz Studio, check out this overview: Introducing Topaz Studio

Free Topaz Studio Download

What You’ll Need

This introduction tutorial is really easy to follow along with but you will need just a few things if you’d like to follow along with me:

1. Topaz Studio. You’ll need Topaz Studio on your computer if you’d like to follow along during this tutorial.

2. An Image. Grab an image to follow along and try it out for yourself.

3. About 10 minutes. This beginner’s level tutorial will only take about 10 minutes to complete.

I’m going to teach you about each slider and what it does but it’s up to you to decide what looks good on your image! Ready to go? Let’s get started!

Step 1: Add the Basic Adjustment

There are a few different ways to add the Basic Adjustment in Topaz Studio.

  1. Click the Basic Adjustment icon in the Adjustment Buttons (pictured here). All 10 free adjustments are located here.
  2. Click the More Button in the Adjustment Buttons to show a list for all Adjustments. Click Basic Adjustment to add it to your Adjustment Stack.
  3. Go to Menu > Adjustment > Basic Adjustment to add the Basic Adjustment.
Add a Basic Adjustment in Topaz Studio

Click the Basic Adjustment icon in the Adjustment Buttons.

The Basic Adjustment in Topaz Studio

The Basic Adjustment in Topaz Studio.

Adjustment Overview

The Basic Adjustment

The Basic Adjustment might look intimidating because there’s a lot going on but it’s very simple to use! The Basic Adjustment features Integrated Masking, Blending Modes, an Opacity Slider, Adjustment Level Presets, and sliders. The sliders are Exposure, Clarity, Shadow, and Highlight. There’s also Saturation, Temperature, and Tint. Usually, sliding to the left is “less” while sliding to the right is “more”. I’ll be going into each slider’s function in depth so read on to learn more!

Adjustment Level Presets

Every Adjustment in Topaz Studio has Adjustment Level Presets. These Presets are a great place to start when editing an image. You can see each slider change when you roll over a different Preset. To commit a Preset, simply Click the Preset Name that you like.

Try it Out: Click on the Adjustment Level Presets and see how they affect your image! Once you see how the Presets change your image, Reset the Adjustment. To completely Reset your image, which deletes all Adjustments used, click Reset in the bottom right corner of the program.

Basic Adjustment Presets

Basic Adjustment Presets.

Make Custom Changes

The Topaz Studio Basic Adjustment is a great starting point to adjust and correct image tone and color. Postproduction is made easy with 4 exposure related value sliders and 3 color effect related sliders. Making custom changes to any Adjustment is fast and easy. Simply click and drag a slider to make a change.

Let’s take an in depth look at what the sliders do in the Basic Adjustment. Now that you know how to Reset your image (remember, bottom right hand corner!) you can make changes without any fear of commitment. You can also use the Undo/Redo buttons in the bottom right of the program.

Exposure Related Sliders

Basic Adjustment Exposure Related Sliders

Basic Adjustment Exposure Related Sliders.

Exposure Slider

Change Exposure in the Basic Adjustment

You can easily update the overall exposure of the image by adjusting the Exposure slider. Simply increase the value of the Exposure slider and the image will become lighter. By decreasing the value, the overall image will become darker. No matter what you do, you’ll never lose color or image integrity, even with extreme adjustments.

Try it Out: Click on the handle (the white dot) and slide it around to see how your image is affected. You can also manually type in values from -1.00 to 1.00, use your arrow key to change the value .01 at a time, or click on the slider to move the handle there instantly. To reset the slider, put it on 0.00. You can also click the Slider Title to reset it.

Clarity Slider

Change Clarity in Basic Adjustment

The Clarity Slider is one of my personal favorites! You can make your image soft and smooth or detailed or even HDR-like! Clarity’s microcontrast technology emulates a skilled retoucher’s method of selectively brightening and darkening parts of your image. Bring out details in images by increasing the value of the slider. To soften image details simply decrease the Clarity slider.

Try it Out: Move the handle all the way to -1.00 to see how smooth and clean your image can look. Then, move the slider to 1.00 and you’ll see how detailed your image can become.

Shadow Slider

Change Shadow in Topaz Studio

Selectively manipulate shadows and dark tones within any image with the Shadow slider. Lighten all the shadows within an image by increasing the value of the slider or darken shadows and lowlights by decreasing the value. Any adjustment made will only affect the darker image tones and shadows.

Try it Out: Click on the handle (the white dot) and slide it around to see how your image is affected. You’ll notice that the dark areas of the image change. Try out a couple different settings and see which one you like best!

Highlight Slider

Change Highlight in Topaz Studio

The highlights in the image are where the image has whites or very light areas. You can effortlessly control image highlights within any image with the Highlight slider. Lighten all the highlights within an image by decreasing the value of the slider or increase the brightness of highlights by increasing the value. The adjustment will selectively affect the lightest areas of the image.

Try it Out: Click on the handle (the white dot) and slide it towards the right. See how bright your image becomes in specific areas? This is where your highlights are and they are changing because of the Highlight Slider changes! If you slide the Handle to the left the image highlights will become darker. Change around the slider to see how your image is affected. You can also manually type in values from -1.00 to 1.00, use your arrow key to change the value .01 at a time, or click on the slider to move the handle there instantly.

Color Related Sliders

Color Related Sliders in Topaz Studio

Basic Adjustment Color Related Sliders.

Saturation Slider

Change Saturation in Basic Adjustment

The Saturation slider in the Basic Adjustment is one of my favorite sliders! It easily adds and removes color from images. Increase or decrease overall image saturation by changing the value of the slider.

Try it Out: Click on the handle and slide it around to see how your image is affected. Try desaturating your image by sliding all the way to the left and trying oversaturating your image by going all the way to the right.

Temperature Slider

Change Temperature in Basic Adjustment

The Temperature slider allows you to effortlessly make images warmer or cooler. Increase the slider to add more yellow to warm up an image or decrease the slider to add more blue to make an image appear cooler.

Try it Out: Use the handle to change the Temperature. The slider is more blue to the left (-1.00) and more yellow to the right (1.00). This comes in handy if you have a color cast from shade or sunlight.

Tint Slider

Change Tint in the Basic Adjustment

Update an image’s overall color cast with the Tint slider. Decreasing the tint value will increase the green tint to an image while increasing the value will create a magenta tint.

Try it Out: Use the handle to change the Tint. The slider is more green to the left (-1.00) and more magenta to the right (1.00). This slider is great for balancing colors.

Adjustment Level Tools

Every Adjustment has tools. You’ll find adjustment level masking, an opacity slider, 28 blending modes, and more in the adjustment header. You can also turn the adjustment on and off, use advanced tools in the menu, and delete the adjustment.

Adjustment level tools make it easy to customize the Adjustment.

1. Masking. You can mask out (or in) pieces of your Adjustment with the Adjustment Level Masking Tool. There are 5 options including Spot, Brush, Gradient, Color, and Luminosity. You can invert the mask, make adjustments to it, stack different types, and much more!

2. Disable Adjustment. Turn the Adjustment on and off.

3. Menu. The Menu allows you to Copy, Paste, and Duplicate Adjustments. You can also Copy and Paste Masks or head over to the webpage by selecting Learn More…

4. Delete. Use the trashcan icon to delete the Adjustment.

5. Opacity. Use the Opacity slider to make the Adjustment lighter or stronger.

6. Blending Mode. Choose a Blending Mode to blend an Adjustment with only parts of your image.

Give these a try and see what they do! You can always use the Undo and Redo buttons in the bottom right hand side of the program. Topaz Studio features unlimited Undo / Redo so experiment as much as you like!

That’s It!

And that’s everything you can accomplish with the Basic Adjustment in Topaz Studio and how you can do it! I hope you tried out a few new things today and learned a little about the endless possibilities within Topaz Studio.

We’ll also be adding more tutorials and videos so be sure to give us a follow to learn more!

If you’d like to share your images with us, tag us on Instagram with @topazlabs and Twitter with @topazlabs. We’re also on Facebook and YouTube!

Gallery

Basic Adjustment Tutorial

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Basic Adjustment Tutorial

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Basic Adjustment Tutorial

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Basic Adjustment Tutorial

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Basic Adjustment Tutorial

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Basic Adjustment Tutorial

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About Jodi L. Robbins

Topaz Labs - Jodi L. Robbins

Jodi is currently the Art Director of Topaz Labs. She has been an artist and photographer for over 15 years, starting with black and white film photography and alternative processing. After completing her BFA in Studio Art from Southern Methodist University and her Masters in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked in product photography for companies such as Heritage Auctions, Neiman Marcus, and the Dallas Cowboys.